- A-Level Physics

# Capacitors

**Capacitors store electrical charge. **They are made up of two conducting plates separated by a dielectric (insulator) or gap. A positive and a negative charge builds up on the opposite plates, but the insulator stops the charge from moving – this creates a potential difference via a uniform electric field. **The charges on each plate are equal and opposite. **

**Capacitance is the of a capacitor is defined as the charge stored per unit p.d. across the capacitor.**

C =Q/V capacitance = charge / potential difference

The units of capacitance are **Farads, F,** or **Coulomb per Volt, ****C/V.**

## Capacitor Networks

As a general rule of thumb, everything about capacitors is the opposite to how it would be with resistors:

1/C = 1/C(1) + 1/C(2) … Combined Capacitance in series

C = C(1) + C(2) … Combined Capacitance in parallel

## Energy Stored

Work is done removing negative charge from one plate and depositing it on the other plate – this is the same as the energy stored by the capacitor, and can be found as the area under a p.d. – charge graph:

W = 1/2 QV Energy stored = 1/2 x charge x p.d.

This equation can be rewritten using the capacitance equation, C = Q/V, rearranged as Q = CV

W = 1/2 V²C Energy Stored = 1/2 voltage² x capacitance

Or, using the capacitance equation written in the form V = Q/C: